Bahrain hosts Modi, days after cold-shouldering Imran

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Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa

New Delhi  Days after Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa gave a cold shoulder to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan over Jammu and Kashmir issue, the prominent Islamic country will host Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday and discuss ways to boost bilateral ties.

This will be the first Prime Ministerial visit from India to Bahrain and has added significance as it is taking place at a time when Pakistan is desperately trying to rope in support from the Muslim countries against India after the abolition of special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state earlier this month.

As part of his efforts, Khan last week called up the Bahrain King to complain about India’s moves on Jammu and Kashmir. However, King Hamad, far from being critical of India, told Khan that Bahrain was closely analysing the situation in Kashmir and that all issues should be resolved through negotiations.

Pakistan has faced rebuff from most of the countries across the world in its bid to galvanise support against India.

The Bahrain government also did not take it lightly when some Pakistanis staged a protest against India on Eid day over the developments in Jammu and Kashmir. The government cracked down on the protesters. Its interior ministry tweeted pictures and said the local police had initiated legal proceedings against the protestors.

Bahrain hosts about 3,50,000 Indian nationals, who have been contributing to the development of the country. There is also a presence of over 3,000 Indian-owned/joint ventures in Bahrain, which indicates the intense economic engagement between the two countries.

During his visit, Modi will hold talks with Prince Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Prime Minister of Bahrain, to discuss the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and also regional and international issues of mutual interest.

The Bahraini King will host a banquet in honour of Modi.

The Indian Prime Minister will also launch the renovation of the Shreenathji (Shree Krishna) temple in Manama.

“I will be blessed to be present at the formal beginning of the re-development of the temple of Shreenathji — the oldest in the Gulf region — in the wake of the auspicious festival of Janmashtami. I am confident that this visit would further deepen our relationship across sectors (sic.),” Modi tweeted, ahead of the visit.

India enjoys close and friendly relations with Bahrain, rooted in ancient trade and cultural links and people-to-people contacts and underpinned by regular exchange of high-level visits.

India-Bahrain bilateral trade has been on the rise for the last few years, reaching about $1.3 billion in 2018-19.

The visit will provide an opportunity to further cement the mutually beneficial bilateral ties with Bahrain, an MEA statement said.

 

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